Fingernails are the hard, claw like coverings that can be found at the end of the fingers in humans and other primates. The fingernail consists of the nail plate, the nail matrix and the nail bed which rests below it. It is also comprises of a number of surrounding groves. Fingernails grow in length and size throughout a person’s life and are often cut and cleaned to maintain healthy growth.
What are Fingernails made of?
Fingernails are made of a strong, tough protein called keratin. Keratin is the same protein that horses hooves, turtle shells and horns are comprised of. Human hair and the top layer of the skin are also comprised of keratin. As the nail grows from the nail bed, the old nail cells are pushed out which causes them to die, flatten and harden. Layers of these dead, compressed and hardened cells create fingernails. The keratin in the nail cells cause the cells to harden and become tough. This helps protect the delicate and sensitive skin underneath, called the nail bed. The layers of cells have no color and are transparent making it possible to see the capillaries of the skin below the nail. This is why fingernails appear pink in color.
Interesting facts about fingernails
- Did you know that fingernails only grow on average approximately 2.5 mm (one tenth of an inch) each month. It would take 3 to 6 months to grow an entirely new fingernail.
- The fingernail on the index finger grows faster than the fingernail on the pinky finger because nail growth rate is determined by the length of finger bone.
- Fingernails grow faster in summer than any other season.
- The shape of your fingernail is determined by the shape of the bone underneath it.
- The only living part of the fingernail is the nail root which is under the skin at the base of the fingernail.
- It is only a myth that fingernails continue to grow after death. However, the skin dehydrates and tightens which makes them appear to grow.